The love story of Irene and Christopher Wright reads like that whirlwind romance novel where The Johns Hopkins Hospital nurse visits the Big Apple and marries her husband six months later.
Except, in this case- that’s exactly what actually happened.
After getting lost in New York City with a group of lady friends from work, a relative of one of the women in the crew, an ex-cop, was on hand to help the women back to the family home in Harlem.
“When we got there he told them I was going to be his wife,” Irene Wright told the AFRO, of a union that budded in October of 1993.
Two weeks and she was back for more sightseeing. That tour ended in the diamond district. Six months later, the couple wed on an April day.
“I went on faith. I’m the type of person that prays for something and God just blesses you. It was crazy, but I tell people I had a fairytale wedding,” said Irene, who is now 49 and working in the JHU pediatric emergency department.
Christopher Wright, 53, said his wife captured him with her personality and spirit.
And he couldn’t have been more on the money. He gambled and he chose right.
These days everyone isn’t so fortunate.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that the marriage rate for every 1,000 Americans was 7.1 in 2008 and then 6.8 from 2009 until 2011. The divorce rate in 2008 and 2009 was 3.5, and had a slight uptick to 3.6 in 2010 and 2011.
Today, the Wrights say their love has stood the test of time in large part because of their faith in God, their support of each other – even through multiple educational degrees-and the fact that they balance each other out.
Having that stability is something Doris and Ellis Brown know a lot about.
Their connection flourished in the heart of Ghana under military rule when the two were brought together by a need to serve through the Peace Corps is Africa.
Over talk of Kwame Nkrumah and amid the days of political change following a 1981 coup, the two became lovers. They married on the ninth day of April the very next year.
Thirty years, three children, two successful careers and a grandchild later, they, too, are proof that Black marriages can last.
“If I could have drawn a picture of the woman I wanted and given it to God saying ‘This is what I want’ – it would have been Doris,” said Brown, now the acting director of Morgan State University’s community and economic development initiative, the Morgan Community Mile.
“Girls weren’t wearing ‘I Heart Nerds’ tee shirts back then, or watching shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory,’” said Brown, who likes the fact that “geeks” are getting more time in the spotlight these days.
“We had a lot of the same interests,” said Doris Brown, relaxing in the couple’s West Baltimore home on a lazy Sunday.
Now a grants accountant at Morgan State, she said she “just knew” when it came to her dashiki-wearing future husband. “He just felt like the right guy. No alarm bells went off and he was patient, gentle.”
Being so far away from family turned out to be a good thing in their opinions, because it forced them to rely on each other and learn how to deal with problems without bringing in family members or friends.
The Browns say that the fact that they married and decided to marry for the long term has helped their union last-a feat one Prince George’s couple in Lake Arbor, Md. says impacts the lives of many others.
“When you don’t have a good relationship it is destructive to the generations,” said 79-year-old Donna J. Dean, wife of former Prince George’s County Council member Samuel H. Dean. “My advice to younger generations is that they need to be equally yolked.”
The couple said that they have kept their connection strong by being deep-rooted in the same faith, and by becoming partners on nearly everything.
“The strongest aspect of our marriage is that we are extremely close friends,” said Samuel Dean. “We do everything together. At least 99 percent of the things we do, we do as partners. There used to be a joke when I was on city council that you got two for one.”
Still today, one can rarely be seen without the other, as they are now partners in a third-party energy supply company.
“We share information with each other and even when we have disagreements we make sure that we resolve those issues. We start off each day with a clean slate.”
“Our marriage did not happen overnight. We say we’re upset and once we resolve it, it’s put behind us. We don’t bring it back up or internalize stuff.”
The couple will celebrate 29 years of marriage on Nov. 10 of this year.